Sunday, December 11, 2011

Astarloza speaks out

Mikel Astarloza granted his local newspaper, el Noticias de Gipuzkoa, a lengthy interview over the weekend - the first of its kind since returning to the Euskaltel fold in August. Here's a quick summary of what was said:

On his two-year absence:
I never stopped feeling like a professional cyclist when I was suspended. From day one it was clear my career wouldn't end like that. I lived as a pro does to the best of my ability. They were two long and hard years, but every day that passed made me happy as it meant I got closer and closer to returning.

On his sanction:
I appealed the verdict, but the case is still with the judges in Madrid. There's no news on that front. They told me cases like these usually take a while though, so I just have to stay patient. It's funny how I've already completed the suspension, and still there's no verdict.

On his stance:
Yes (I still proclaim my innocence). Of course.

On Euskaltel's support:
I'm pleased with their behaviour; I can't complain. In a situation as difficult as mine, they showed their support from the first to the last day. They opened up a spot for me, so of course I'm grateful.

On his comeback:
I returned to competition at the Vuelta a Burgos in August, so naturally my season was a tad short. I therefore tried to sustain my form 'till the end of the season, and I finished up in Lombardy in October. After that race, I couldn't do anything but relax. But it's been a good pre-season, so I'm looking forward to 2012.

On not being selected for the Vuelta a España:
I have to admit it was a blow not being picked for the Vuelta. After all, I spent the whole of 2011, from January onwards, preparing for that race. After Burgos I was told I wasn't going, and that was very annoying. I think I would have been satisfying shape. To be honest, I still don't understand why I was left out. But, hey, that's in the past. I'm not dwelling on it, I'm just looking forward to the start of the season.

On the Tour of Beijing:
Right from the start it was. We suffered badly from gastroenteritis, and obviously it's hard to get back into shape after such a bad bout. Therefore, the experience of the race and the country was bad. But I hope the other riders don't feel the same way. Obviously my view is a bit obstructed as the whole team was suffering - experiences like that put a damper on the whole thing.

On his schedule:
I'll start in Mallorca and Andalucía, but the big targets of the first few months will be Paris-Nice, Critériun International and Vuelta al País Vasco. Then I'll do the Ardennes Classics, before finishing off the first part of the season at Romandia. Then I'll take a month off, before returning at the Tour de Suisse. After that it's time for the Tour.

On repeating the stage-win of 2009:
It's a dream to repeat that win. Actually, it's an obsession. I've always dreamed of crossing the line, arms aloft, at the Tour again. It's my dream and obsession.

On his future:
My contract's up at the end of 2012, but hopefully the team keeps going and I can stay on. I just turned 32, so I think, athletically speaking, I've matured. But I'm as motivated as an 18-year-old.

1 comment:

Bolsen3 said...

I feel like he's spitting at our faces when he still claims his innocence!

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!


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